If you recall, back in the darkest days of the recession, we covered the topic of rescinded offers quite frequently. Now that the legal profession is in a slow recovery, it’s a rare occurrence.

But not today.

We’ve got news of a Biglaw firm that recently decided to axe half of its incoming associate class, just weeks before graduation. Lovely.

Which firm is making its would-be associates scramble for new jobs? Could it be yours?

We received numerous tips this weekend about a firm that had presumably ruined some careers. That firm is Brown Rudnick, whose profits per partner took a tumble in the latest Am Law 200 rankings. Brown Rudnick apparently decided to pull offers made to many of this past summer’s associates. We reached out to the firm, cringing all the while at its incredibly late timing. Brown Rudnick send us this statement:

With regret, we have made the difficult decision to rescind offers to 10 of the 23 associates scheduled to join us in the fall 2014. Most of these associates were extended offers to work in our NY and Boston offices and we are not in a position to assimilate such a high number and provide associates with the work opportunities and training that will enable them to develop.

Flip to the next page for the full statement, in which the firm goes on to cite the “challenging” market, the “flat” demand for legal services, and the ever-declining demand for first-year attorneys’ work. Pardon us, but haven’t we known this information for a very long time? Dare we say so, this has been known for ages.

We sincerely hope the firm’s leaders understand that approximately no one is looking to hire right now. As one of our tipsters so eloquently noted, “Brown Rudnick absolutely screwed these kids.” Hear, hear.

The firm could have avoided this incredibly embarrassing and unfortunate situation by rescinding these offers earlier — in November, December, or even January. Yes, that still would have been horrendous, but it wouldn’t have forced third-year law students to worry about finding a job right before finals. This absurdly late notice has cut them off at the knees and severely decreased their opportunities.

Another one of our tipsters wanted to know why the firm didn’t instead explore a gentler option:

What about deferral? That, too, would have saved the affected students from having to answer questions akin to “Why weren’t you one of the few who was actually hired?” during future interviews, and would have afforded them a meaningful opportunity to (at least) pursue state clerkships and public interest opportunities.

Given that Brown Rudnick announced this decision mere weeks before graduation, we’re going to take a wild guess here and say that the firm simply didn’t have the foresight to consider such an approach. Instead, it just got cold feet and searched for an easy resolution. At least the firm is offering transition fees, bar review reimbursement, and job assistance to the people it cast aside.

These would-be associates relied detrimentally on Brown Rudnick’s offer. Don’t let this be a reflection on their aptitude and intelligence. Don’t hold it against them when they apply for jobs elsewhere. This should be taken for exactly what it is: a poor reflection on Brown Rudnick and its abysmal planning skills. We wish the best of luck to those who had the rug pulled out from under them by the firm.

(Flip to the next page for the full statement from Brown Rudnick about the firm’s rescinded offers.)


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